What makes a good story brief and how do I create one?

Modified on Sun, 27 Nov 2022 at 05:43 PM

A well-developed story brief is a great way to set your project up for success. Here's how to make a brief that covers all the bases.


In this article we'll review:

  1. What is a story brief? And what should you include in your story brief?

  2. How do you create a story brief? 

1. What is a story brief?

A story brief serves as the informal contract between you and the contributor. It's a blueprint for each piece of content, containing all the requirements from your side, and, if the story is a result of a pitch, the contributor's proposal.


What should I include in my story brief?

The more detailed the story brief, the better. You'll want to outline all the requirements for the contributor so they fully understand what you're looking for. Consider the following when creating your story brief. A summary that covers:

  • Background information: What is the purpose of this piece?

  • Business context: Is this piece tied to a specific business or marketing objective?

  • Content objective: What should the reader come away with? For example, is the goal to have the reader understand all the risks and benefits associated with credit card use, or to fully understand their options when it comes to credit card payment?


Does the story require interviews with specific sources? If so, include contact information for interviewees and, if necessary, any special instructions for reaching out.Special requirements


Are there any products the story should highlight? Any quotes the writer should include? Include those instructions in the brief.


Audience and pillar

The brief is a good place to build on the audience and topical information in your Content Strategy. For example, if you have an audience "Retirees over 65" documented in Contently, but you're targeting divorced female retirees over 65 for a particular piece, include that information in your brief along with any other insight into the new audience's desires/needs/problems/motivations/etc.


Word count

Simple but critical: Include a word count in your story brief. This will ensure you and the contributor are aligned on the expected length of the piece and the associated fee.


SEO keywords

Select the SEO keywords you'd like the contributor to incorporate into the piece. In your instructions, include where in the piece and how frequently you expect the keywords to appear.



If you are using Contently to source images, include image requirements in the story brief. If your image or brand guidelines are not uploaded to your Content Strategy, attach them to the story brief.


Recommended links

Include recommended links to provide the contributor with secondary sources of information, examples, or other resources that will help them complete the assignment.


How much room for creative freedom should I leave in my brief?

In short, as much or as little as you'd like. Each freelancer is unique and will have their own interpretations of the story brief. That said, if you don't have a clear direction for the piece in mind, you can grant as much creative freedom as you're comfortable with. Either way, let the contributor know that they can reach out to you (include preferred means of communication) if they have any questions as they work on the assignment.


2. How do I create a story brief?

  • If you hover your mouse over the "+" button, you'll see a list of options appear. Please click on the "Create story " button to advance.

To create a story, please complete the following fields:

  1. Click "Select a publication" from the dropdown menu and select the publication you wish to work on

  2. Title: Enter a title of story

  3. Details: Enter the story brief here. If you already have it in a .doc file, you can also attach below. If you attach, please write "See attachment" in the additional materials section.

  4. Format: Select the format of the story.

In creating thoughtful and complete briefs, you not only provide the freelancer an easy-to-follow requirements doc, you create a documented piece of insurance in the event things go south on a project and you'll be able to point to the brief as a way to determine whether expectations were aligned with results.

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